COOK

Lunge for the Fruit Bowl

Blueberry season means fruit bowl

It is wild Maine blueberry season in a couple of months and there will be a box of freshly picked berries sitting on the kitchen table, next to it will be a plate of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies (children home for summer).

Which do you choose?

Most of us will choose the chocolate chip cookie.  We know that it will taste good, the sugar will give us an immediate energy boost, and there is a comfort factor in the warmth of those gooey chocolate chips.  But those cookies do not contain fiber or much protein (if any), so we will not feel satiated and will want more.  The sugars are simple ones and break down quickly, thus giving an immediate energy boost and a rapid crash.  Fruit sugars are broken down more slowly, thereby giving a sustained energy.  There are no saturated fats in fruit—cookies, for sure.  In a google search, article after article came up that verified the conclusion of reaching for the chocolate laden cookie.

If you recall, I ran into a couple of friends who were on a mission of better eating (Sugar, Not So Sweet ) a few months ago.  We met again, in the grocery store, and I noticed that they were looking pretty fit and had color in their cheeks.  We exchanged pleasantries and then I asked, how did the eating changes go? It was hard at first, they said, but we stuck to it as much as we could and we both lost weight.  The secret? Not loads of self-help articles on how to manipulate this carb and that, cut out anything pink, purple or blue, no expensive exercise equipment that had to be put together, and no freezer-food packs delivered to the door-it was simpler than that.  Well maybe not simpler, but something they both possessed what was needed, and it did not cost a darn thing—just good old-fashioned WILLPOWER.  They set a goal, cut down on sugar, upped fruit and vegetables, cut down to eliminated processed foods,  trimmed down on soda pop and ice cream, served themselves smaller portions, and exercised-walking mostly.  TA-DAH.  What motivated them was the sheer desire to do it.  They stopped reaching for the chocolate chip cookies and lunged for the fruit basket.  More importantly, they stopped buying the chocolate chip cookies and the ingredients to make them.

So how do we break the sugar habit?

By eating refined sugars in limited amounts and having the willpower to choose the fruit.  Sugar has become so ingrained in the modern diet, that it is a tough habit to break or even lessen.  And when the medical communities guidelines say that 6 teaspoons for women and 9 teaspoons for men of sugar a day is ok, we have to really question and look at how much sugar we are consuming. Measure it out, and grab a spoon. To put that into tangible terms, there are approximately 10 teaspoons of sugar in one can of soda pop. Is that a quantity you really want to consume?

One of the Bleuberet Blog’s most read posts is called “Sugar, Not So Sweet.”  We discussed the drawbacks and merits of sugar in our foods-rot your teeth vs flavor enhancement levels.  But we were primarily talking about white refined sugars (beet and cane), not fructose.  In a recent article on the food/health/lifestyle blog Health Ambition, we were connected to the article “Is Fruit Bad For You? A Scienced Backed Answer,” by Helen Sanders, the chief editor.  Ms. Sanders discusses the merits of fruit consumption as healthy eating, and the dividing line where fruit sugar (fructose) in high quantities can have adverse effects.  Through references to scientific studies, she stresses that the quantity of fruit that one would have to consume to even come close to what a can of soda pop can contains is practically impossible.  You would feel sick long before you got the amount of fructose into your system that the soda pop would.  She focuses on eating the whole fruit and the benefits derived from eating a piece of fruit vs fruit juice or the addition of high fructose corn syrup. When a piece of fruit is consumed you are getting soluble fiber, nutrients, anti-oxidants, and limited quantities of fructose, Ms. Sanders states. In a google search for how many grams of sugar an apple contains vs a can of soda, well, the numbers are staggering—19g in an apple and 39 in a can of soda, and that is a 12oz can.  Next time you go to the movies and you reach for the jumbo size soda, think about how many apples could fit in to that cup (20oz-64oz at many theatres).  Soda not only contains refined white sugar, but also high fructose corn syrup.  Which we now know can lead to health problems such as obesity, diabetes, and hypertension[1].

So where are we left on the sweetening front?

As jam producers, and users of sugar, we are frequently asked if we have a sugar-free product.  No, we do not.  The reason being that jams that do not contain sugar are called spreads, and no one buys them. So how do we combat the public’s desire to eat less sugar when an alternative is available, but they do not purchase it.  There are people who genuinely do not eat sugar in any form, but they are limited in number.  Many substitute honey, Stevia or maple syrup for sugar, touting the health benefits of doing so. It comes down to taste and what people have become accustomed to or what they can or want to switch to.  Apple butter contains no refined sugars (usually), it is the fructose that is cooked down and concentrated. By lessening the water in the fruit, the fructose condenses and sweetens the apple butter.

It all comes back to willpower.

It is the only thing that will change the amount of sugar consumption in our diets.  We never advocate for all or nothing, we are suggesting that there are ways to lessen the quantities consumed.  Experiment with grated apples to sweeten and firm up (apples have lots of pectin) a blueberry or strawberry pie.  Use honey or maple syrup to sweeten yogurt and oatmeal to start the day.  Eat seasonal fruits for variety. There are lots of ways to eat well, you just have to have the willpower to follow through.  And if you really need a little external motivation, purchase an exercise tracker such as a FitBit (we recommend the Charge2 or the Alta HR, as they have heartrate monitors).

We want to know how you lessen or lower your sugar consumption?  What do you cook with, bake with, or add to yogurt to sweeten it?  Send us a recipe and if we publish it, we will send you a jar of Bleuberet In the Buff Jam.

Further Reading:

“Is Fruit Bad For You; A Scienced Backed Answer,” Helen Sanders, healthambition.com

Healthy snacks for kids (and their families), JamieOliver.com

FitBit Blog-Here’s What 6 Teaspoons of Sugar Look Like, by Tracy Morris


[1] “Is Fruit Bad For You, A Scienced Backed Answer” By Helen Sanders, healthambition.com, accessed June 4, 2017, https://www.healthambition.com/fruit-bad-scienced-backed-answer/

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